Top of page

Celebrating African Americans in Science & Business

Share this post:

February is African American History Month. During this month, we frequently receive questions from students working on school projects related to African Americans in science and business. In general, students seek biographical information about a specific black scientist, inventor or business person.

George Washington Carver, half-length portrait, facing right
George Washington Carver, half-length portrait, facing right, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama, 1906

Before my time, back in the 1980’s, LC science librarian Vivian Ovelton Sammons had several students come into the Science and Business Reading Room looking for the names of 75 black scientists. Vivian could name about 10 off the top of her head, but 75 seemed like a challenge. This experience proved to be the inspiration to create a guide to help librarians, students, and the general public find information about black scientists in the United States.

After many years of helping students find information about black scientists, Vivian collected her references and created the guide Blacks in the Sciences and Related Disciplines. She also published the significant work Blacks in Science and Medicine (New York, Hemisphere Pub., c1990), which contains over 1,500 biographical entries. Her work identifying biographical sources and information on black scientists is monumental. Her work has assisted thousands upon thousands of authors, black history scholars, librarians, students, and members of the general public to learn more about our country’s African American scientists.

Although Vivian is retired from the Library,  we carry on the work she started. Our Science Reference Service continues to create and update guides to  finding information on African Americans in science and technology:

Chemistry laboratory at Howard University, Washington, D.C. shows many men working around laboratory equipment
Chemistry laboratory at Howard University, Washington, D.C. (ca. 1900). Photo displayed as part of the American Negro exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900.

Blacks in the Sciences and Related Disciplines

African American Science Books for Younger Readers

African Americans in Science and Technology  (Selected Internet Resources only)

African Americans in Science and Technology Exhibit Reading List

African American Women in the Military and at War

African-American Women in the Sciences and Related Disciplines

And for information about African Americans in business, our Business Reference Service has compiled this excellent guide on African American Business Resources.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of African Americans in the sciences– Kenneth Manning has written extensively on the subject:

Manning, Kenneth R.  African Americans in Science in Ideology, identity, and assumptions.  Edited by Howard Dodson and Colin Palmer. New York, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Ann Arbor, MI, ProQuest CSA; East Lansing, Michigan State University Press, c2007.  p. 49-56 (excerpt from the book)

Manning, Kenneth. Blacks in science have rich history, but diversity efforts must continue. MIT News, January 13, 1999.

Manning, Kenneth. Essays on Science and Society: Science and Opportunity. Science, v. 282, Nov. 6, 1998: 1037-1038.

For more information about events, exhibitions, and symposia this month, as well as, more resources on African American contributions– Check out the Library’s African American History Month portal.  Also of interest is the Library’s new online exhibition NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom.

Comments (4)

  1. This is a very useful tool. What a great way to expedite the searching process for the public.

  2. It was extremely interesting for me to read that post. Thanks the author for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.

    Truly yours

  3. Great post you got here. It would be great to read more about that topic. Thanks for posting this info.

  4. It is rather interesting for me to read the blog. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Best regards

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.